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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

AI Generated Books

By Hayley Cadel and Maisie Clarke

It can feel like every industry is talking about AI, and publishing is no different. In this issue, we’re looking at AI and its potential impact on books. What is AI, and will books be written by it in the future? AI stands for Artificial Intelligence, which is the computer simulation of human intelligence. A basic explanation is, AI is fed information and uses this information to learn, and this knowledge is used to create output. Right now, AI has many benefits across many disciplines: it can be used by students to write essays and has even produced poetry. As AI continues to advance, there is the potential for it to branch into producing books.

Launched in November 2022, ChatGPT is an advanced chatbot that is designed to respond to text-based queries and generate natural language responses. Chatbot technology is already used to provide automated customer service, but it can now be used to summarise texts or create content. ChatGPT can generate text based on a prompt, such as a question or statement, and therefore it is now being used to create books on Amazon. Many books discuss how to use ChatGPT to increase productivity and earn money, with one book offering to teach authors how to use ChatGPT to elevate their fiction. However, there is also a lighthearted element to this, with books such as 100 Witty & Odd Poems About Everything and Nothing, which uses ChatGPT to write poems in the style of 100 famous people. Whilst the technology has the potential to be exciting and potentially save costs for a notoriously risk-averse publishing industry, we will go on to talk about some of the potential drawbacks and concerns.

An interesting example of an AI generated book is the children’s book Alice and Sparkle, credited to Ammaar Reshi. The story goes, Reshi was playing around with ChatGPT and realised it could be used to write children’s books. Within a couple of days, he had published a twelve-page picture book, printed it and started selling it on Amazon. In Alice and Sparkle, a young girl builds her own artificial intelligence robot that becomes sentient, gaining self-awareness and the capability to make its own decisions. Reshi’s story promotes this idea of churning out books as an easy way of generating income. Whilst using AI in this way is impressive, it also sparks a debate on the ethics of using it in this way.

However, there are key criticisms of AI; one being that it uses the hard work of creatives to learn how to emulate them, whilst posing as a potential replacement for authors. There are also no current reimbursements for authors when their work is used as AI training material. Another key criticism is that there are currently no rules around crediting AI, which therefore means that readers may be unaware that they are reading AI generated text. Not crediting the author can also be a problem when potential lawsuits ensue, when AI creates problematic content or content with errors or information which has been plagiarised. More generally, readers are often suspicious of content written by AI; when internet sources put AI disclaimers on their articles, a swift backlash ensues. And whilst AI can summarise texts well and collate sources to write articles well, it cannot comment on information it hasn’t been fed, nor can it draw intelligent conclusions on historical trends unless those conclusions have been made before. There is also a morality attached to writing, which AI does not harbour. Writers, on the whole, care they endeavour to write truthful content to inform their reader – but AI does not have a conscience and may not be able to detect this nuance. The idea that AI can only generate content based on what it is fed may also result in a lack of originality.

When books are discussed, it is also with a level of purity, which readers often don’t like to taint with capitalism, and this extends to the role of the author. However, the potential for AI-written books is a discussion worth engaging with. While there are valid criticisms, there is also the potential for AI to create more relevant content in a more timely manner. As AI continues to gain intelligence, it may only be a matter of time until it is competing in the marketplace. However, whether interest in books written in this manner will wane, only time will tell!



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